Terry Caliendo

ON November 1, 2017

How to Get Your Child to Give Up His/Her Halloween Candy


Halloween Candy given up for toys from the Great Pumpkin

Every year when Halloween rolls around our child suddenly has a bucket load of Halloween candy and because we don't want him to ingest that much sugar, the question becomes, "How do we get our child to give up his Halloween Candy".  Last year after watching an on-demand replay of the old ABC Halloween Special "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown", my wife, on a whim, started a new tradition in an effort to get our child to give up his Halloween Candy each year.  With a brilliant flash of off-the-cuff creativity, she used the idea of the Great Pumpkin to get him to trade his candy for a toy.

Beyond some other behavioral issues (to be written about in the future), our 4 year old son (almost 5 years old) is VERY hyperactive.  He rarely sits still. As one of many examples, he will often jump on a couch cushion we put on the floor for an entire movie (he's not allowed to jump on the couch).  Thus, we try to keep him from eating sugar as much as possible as sugar can sometimes put him in overdrive, which then leads to a severe melt down.

So rather than fight with him about taking away his Halloween candy, my wife realized the task was to get him to choose to give it away (or more accurately "trade it away").

Early on, when he was pretty clueless (1-2 years old) we could just take most of the candy away and ultimately he'd forget about it. Or we could tell him that he ate it all.  But this year his memory is much better.  And not only did we trick-or-treat on October 31st, but we went to multiple events the week before, including a Trunk-Or-Treat at his school.  His little trick-or-treat pumpkin basket was filled with Halloween candy.

So in that moment of inspiration my wife created a tradition in our house that if our son were to leave his bucket of candy out on Halloween night, the Great Pumpkin will stop by and trade it for a toy.  And of course we had to one-up it and let our son know that like in the cartoon this year the Great Pumpkin is only visiting boys that are very "sincere" (we have a thing about telling the truth and being sincere in your apologies when you make bad decisions, like hurting others).

This year, we let our son choose three pieces of Halloween candy to keep.  One piece of Halloween candy he got to eat right away and the other two were to be kept as rewards that he could earn for good behavior (for reasons to be discussed at some other time, everything is a reward in our house, and we rarely use sugar as a reward).

In the weeks leading up to the Halloween holiday we had asked him what toy he'd like the Great Pumpkin to leave him.  This he most wanted a PJ Masks toy he had seen at Walmart.

So we made our new Halloween tradition to get our kid to give up his candy more about the fun and excitement of a visit from the Great Pumpkin.  We made it an event to put all his Halloween candy in a bucket and leave it out for the Great Pumpkin to find.  My even wife wrote a note for the Great Pumpkin which my son dictated.

The next morning our son got to wake up to the excitement of wondering if the Great Pumpkin had come.  The excitement on his face when he saw the toys the Great Pumpkin left him in exchange for his Halloween Candy was absolutely priceless.  It kind of felt like a mini Christmas event.

Holloween candy given up for toys by the great pumpkin

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